September 29, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 39
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Friday, Oct 23, 2020



IN LOVING MEMORY - Aleta Fencery: Founder of "Fenceberry" LGBT news clipping service passes
IN LOVING MEMORY - Aleta Fencery: Founder of "Fenceberry" LGBT news clipping service passes
by Bill Dubay - Special to the SGN

It is with sincere sorrow that I share the sad news of Aleta Fenceroy's passing. Aleta, who along with her partner Jean Mayberry, has given so much to our national LGBT Community.

Like thousands around the United States, Canada and other countries, I never had the pleasure of meeting either of these two women in person, but after hundreds of exchanged emails, exchanges of photographs, and several phone calls between us, I consider both of them to be close friends.

The year was 1998. The marriage equality movement was gaining steam and many of us wanted to get all the perspectives and news articles that we could on the subject. Then one day my friend Wendy Wartes introduced me to "Fenceberry," a LGBT news clipping service, free to anyone who wanted to sign on. The name was obviously a combination of Aleta and Jean's last names.

Aleta and Jean inherited this project under another name from a friend who found the work too time consuming. This service delivered Gay-related news articles from around the country directly to subscribers email inboxes. At first it was once or twice a day, but it quickly grew in leaps and bounds to several daily messages, each with up to ten separate articles in them. As the list of subscribers grew, so did the number of articles. Even letters to editors were included.

At first Jean did the bulk of the work, but soon Aleta took it over. In addition to working full-time, go to school to get a masters degree, and all the other things that each of faces in daily life, she spend hours every night providing this wonderful service to her subscribers. Such dedication, at no financial reward is rare. Thousands of LGBT people and our supporters around the country quickly became addicted to the service.

Then on July 31, 2004 came a message from Fenceberry that disappointed us all. The title of the message was "That's All Folks." The project simply became too time consuming, too much of a burden, too intrusive on their lives. The Fenceberries wanted to have a life again, one that anyone would deserve, so the quit the service.

In June 2006 Aleta was diagnosed with cancer. The chemotherapy didn't work. Her loving partner Jean took care of her to the end. On September 23 she died at home, leaving behind Jean, two adult children, three grandchildren and thousands of admirers from across the nation.

In the words of journalist Jay Blotcher, "But the integrity of her life has made her a hero to thousands of L&G people all over the world. She has nurtured by spreading truth far and wide. The burning building is her community at the crossroads. And she donned the uniform of a caring citizen and went forth to do battle against the demagogues and homophobes who challenged us. She fought back with the potent weapon of words. ducated, [sic] thoughtful words. That is all too rare in these duplicitous days."

Typical of Aleta, who was always considerate of others and wanting to advance the issues of the LGBT community, had asked that any remembrances be sent to the ACLU Foundation, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004-2400.

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